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Preview: Suns take on Bulls in Windy City showdown

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Freshly minted All-Stars face off in Suns vs. Bulls

2019 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Phoenix Suns (20-11) vs. Chicago Bulls (15-16)

When: 6:00 p.m. MST

Where: United Center, Chicago

Watch: Fox Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM


The Chicago Bulls are back!

Just like the Phoenix Suns are poised to stay in the playoff picture all season in the West, so are the Bulls under new head coach Billy Donovan in the East. This year’s Bulls profile a lot like the Suns a year ago, with all the stats adding up to a just-below-500 team. But since the Bulls are in the East, that means playoffs baybeee!

Now the Suns try to start another winning streak before the first half of the schedule is over. Let’s see if they focus and give the Bulls their best game.

Projected Starters

Injury Report

Suns — Dario Saric is questionable again with an ankle injury

Bulls

LaVine, first time All-Star

Congratulations to Zach LaVine on his first All Star nod of his career. Like Devin Booker, LaVine was always the empty stats player that would fall short of consideration to join the All Star squad in the east. That would not be the case this year with the Bulls currently holding a playoff qualifying record of 15-16 and improved stats across the board:

28.6 PTS, 43% 3P%, 52% FG%, 5.1 AST, 5.4 REB

Well deserved by a player, like Booker, who is always spat as player that needs to traded. Building a legacy in Chicago with a young core is the only thing on the mans mind.

Wow, that’s crazy bro!

That’s what Bulls starting point guard Coby White in the press room, after being taken 7th by the Bulls in 2019, when he heard that teammate Cameron Johnson had been taken 11th by the Suns. His comments were taken in the vein of most observers who did not rank Johnson that highly — that White was expressing disbelief in the pick because Johnson did not deserve it.

But now that we all know Cam Johnson better, what a great person, teammate and hard worker he is, we can see that White was expressing surprise in a positive way, just happy for Cam going to the NBA just like White himself, despite Cam’s advancing age (23 at draft time).

Watch the video again here and tell me you still think Coby White is disrespecting Cam or being sarcastic in any way.

In the first White/Johnson face-off last spring, White went OFF for 33 points in a Bulls loss to the Suns. Cam Johnson had 11 points off the bench in that game, and Deandre Ayton had 28 points, 19 rebounds and 3 blocks in the Suns win.

Carter Jr. vs. Ayton

Wendell Carter Jr. came out in the same draft as Ayton, taken 7th overall by the Bulls. He’s dealt with injuries and role issues since then, unable to play more than 44 games in a season so far.

Ayton is in a slump lately, mentally and productively. Maybe a matchup against a like-aged young center could rile Ayton up.

I know what you did last Wednesday, refs

The Suns will try to rebound from their last-second loss to the visiting Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night, a loss that could/might have been avoided if the referees had called the foul on Booker’s attempted game-winner like they should have.

For the second time this season, the league-distributed “Last 2 Minutes” report of calls and non-calls close games, and admits that Booker was indeed fouled with 0.6 seconds left. Booker should have been awarded free throws that could have tied the game. No, the Suns did not deserve to win based on their play the first 47.94 minutes, but overtime is overtime and anything can happen.

Stats

Prediction

Teams from the east are now stepping up to the challenge this year with the play-in a possibility to make for just about any team now. The schedule might look easy for the Suns at times due to how these teams from the east have looked in the past, but if you look closely, every game can turn into a challenge. This game will be a challenge. Young and athletic can always cause an issue.

Suns win: 111-105 (I might predict something else on the Suns JAM Session podcast, I forget things)